Friday, December 18, 2015

Two Merry(?) Little Christmases: December Inkling Explorations Link-Up

This month's Inkling Explorations subject is "A Christmastide Movie Scene."  As soon as I read that, I knew I wanted to share a scene from The Monuments Men (2014).  You can watch the whole scene here on YouTube, but I'm going to describe it for you here for those who don't want to watch it without having seen the movie, or who have small children in the room (part of it involves some blood).

So The Monuments Men is about a bunch of Allies who try to recover all kinds of artwork that the Nazis have been stealing and hoarding, which is based on something that actually happened during WWII.  Throughout the first half of the film, Campbell (Bill Murray) and Savitz (Bob Balaban) have been very antagonistic toward each other.  Savitz thinks Campbell is an uncultured swine, and Campbell thinks Savitz is a pretentious snob.  But they have to share a tent in camp, and they keep getting sent out on assignments together even though everyone knows they dislike each other.

In this scene, Campbell and Savitz have gotten Christmas packages from their families.

Campbell's is full of snapshots and little homemade gifts.

Savitz has received tasty treats that he clearly has no intention of sharing.

Campbell also gets a record, a message his family has sent him that presumably holds Christmas greetings.  (I'm instantly reminded of one of my favorite Combat! episodes, "Just for the Record," which involves Sgt. Saunders [Vic Morrow] receiving a similar record and risking his life to hear it.)

Campbell makes a joke about having to confiscate a phonograph so he can hear it, sets the record aside, and leaves to take a shower.

And while he's in the shower, over the loudspeaker comes the voice of his daughter.  Campbell looks up in wonder as he hears his daughter and grandchildren wish him a merry Christmas.  He turns off the shower and just stands there, listening.

(By this point in the movie, I have tears running down my cheeks.  I'm actually crying right now as I type this up.)  He's got no idea how this miracle has come about.

But we, the audience, know.  Savitz has taken the record of this man he professes to dislike, commandeered the camp loudspeaker system, and is playing the record so that Campbell will get to hear these messages from home.

And then Campbell's daughter begins to sing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."

This scene has been intercutting with the interior of an aid station, where two other characters bring a wounded soldier they found by the road.

The song continues as a doctor examines the soldier, realizes he's dying, and orders morphine for him to ease his final moments.

Nobody here is having a merry Christmas.  And yet, Christmas goes on whether people are merry or not, doesn't it?  Because in the end, Christmas isn't about merriment.  It's about the pain of childbirth, the miraculous incarnation of God as a tiny child, and the wonder of an undeserved gift not for one person, but for all mankind.

Now, I said in my title that this is about TWO merry (or actually not-so-merry) Christmases.  Because the song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" debuted in the movie Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), where big sister Esther (Judy Garland) sang it to her littlest sister Tootie (Margaret O'Brien) to try to cheer her up.  You see, their father has decreed that the family will be moving to New York City after Christmas, and the whole family is very sad and upset about this.  So although Esther is singing about light hearts, their troubles are definitely not out of sight.  She says that "through the years, we all will be together," but she's contemplating staying behind in St. Louis, so she knows that much of what she sings in this song might not come true.  It's also a very sad scene, and I'm going to share it here.

Meet Me in St. Louis is one of my daughters' favorite movies, and we watch it regularly.  (And yes, we nicknamed my littlest mouse "Tootie" after Margaret O'Brien's character).  If you haven't seen it, I can wholeheartedly recommend it as a family-friendly delight.  The Monuments Men is also one of my personal favorites, but it's not for younger viewers.  You can read my full review of it here.

Despite the melancholy of these two scenes I've shared here, both of these movies are actually very uplifting and end happily!  And despite the fact that I've chosen to share two Christmas scenes that make me cry, I actually love Christmas and am generally in a happy, bouncy mood from Thanksgiving on.  Honest!

Don't forget to visit Sharing the Journey to read other entries to this month's link-up!  Most of them probably don't involve a blogger crying while she types...


  1. GAWSH. That scene in 'the Monuments Men' sounds incredible.
    (Love the new header, by the way!!!)

    1. Naomi, it IS incredible. And thanks! It was fun to whip up something a bit festive :-)

  2. Wow . . . that sounds beautiful. I love scenes like that . . .

    I saw SW7 last night and IT WAS INCREDIBLE. Absolutely mind-blowing. Daisy Ridley and John Boyega did such an amazing job, I CAN'T EVEN.

    1. Jessica, it's an amazing scene. Great movie, too.

      But lalalalalalalalalalalalala I have my fingers in my ears because I won't be seeing Star Wars until after Christmas and I don't want spoilers! I don't want to know ANYTHING that wasn't in the trailers!

    2. I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW. I wasn't planning to tell you anything that wasn't in the trailers. I just wanted you to know it's really, REALLY good. And all those people who were saying "it's gonna be terrible because it's Disney and J.J. Abrams" SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF THEMSELVSES. That's all.

    3. Jessica, I think those people should be ashamed of themselves regardless because what kind of small-minded bigotry is that? Nonsense.

      I'm really glad you liked it so well!

    4. Yes . . . definitely a lot of "haters gonna hate" ridiculousness going on there. People need to try and be more open-minded that that.

  3. Ohhhhh, that scene. I'm getting emotional just thinking about it! :( So, so moving. Even though I can't watch TMM whenever I want because Mom and Dad don't like some of the language, I'll have to re-watch this scene sometime soon. (And great minds think alike, because I was thinking of using this scene to do an Inklings Exploration post - but now that you have, I don't think I will. But that's fine.)

    You know, I've never seen Meet Me In St. Louis. WHAT. I really need to, right? :)


    P.S. I LOVE your header! <3

    1. Eva, it's soooooooo well done, isn't it? And that's cool that you thought of using this scene too! I'm sure you'll find another. I was thinking of another one earlier, but can't remember what it was at the moment.

      I first saw Meet Me in St. Louis after I was married. So don't feel lame! But yes, it's a fun, sweet movie. Some people object to how the dad is portrayed, but I think it's pretty realistic to some dads I have known. (Not mine, thank heaven!)

      PS Thanks!

    2. Well, I don't know if I'll end up doing an Inklings Exploration post, but if I did, it would probably be something from either Little Women or Stalag 17. Too bad Combat! doesn't have a Christmas episode, eh?

      My library is great when it comes to stocking old movies (and MMISL is pretty well-known anyway), so it'll probably have it. :)


      P.S. I also love the button you created to advertise my blog on your sidebar. How did I not see that until just now?

    3. Eva, Stalag 17 would be awesome! And yes, too bad C! had no actual Christmas eps. Hmph.

      I'm so happy you have a good library! Mine stinks when it comes to classics. Hmph again. I hope you can see MMISL, because it's adorable.

      And I made that button like 2 months ago, so I don't know why you hadn't seen it. Just felt like a good fit for you, since you love Audrey Hepburn, and she's drinking coffee in a classic while being a bit crazy -- how could I resist? If you want, I'll email you the file if you want to put it up for others to use or whatever.

    4. I got home from church (we just changed our service times, so we meet in the morning instead of late afternoon), and wrote up a quick Stalag 17 post. Hope you like it! :)

      The thing about my library is that, yes, it's great for carrying a bunch of books and movies that I love, but ever since we moved, it's about an hour away - I miss being able to walk to it whenever I wanted. :P And that means I probably won't be able to watch White Christmas or It's A Wonderful Life, or any of those classic Christmas films this December. *sigh*

      It's perfect! :) I'd love it if you emailed me the file - I'll probably use it on my sidebar, or on my 'About' page.

    5. Eva, well now you match us, because our services are in the morning too :-) I loved your Stalag 17 post! As you know by now.

      An hour from your library -- how tragic! We currently live about 20 minutes from ours, but they're building a new branch that will be only 10 minutes away and I'm really excited about that. From the time I went to college until we moved into this house, I had been within walking distance of a library -- not by design, exactly, that's just where we always ended up finding apartments. So I thought that being 20 minutes away was bad, but I will grouse about that no more. Also, I Really Wish I Had Known About This because there were oooooodles of Christmas movies on sale really cheap at the used bookstore a couple weeks ago, and I could have gotten you several for Christmas. Had I But Known!

      Emailing you the file now :-)

    6. We used to have church in the morning, but we had to change the service times temporarily (ended up being about a year) because of some church members' work schedules. But I'm glad we've changed it back now. :)

      There is a library only fifteen minutes or so away from us, but it has a terrible selection of the books/movies that our family likes so we hardly ever go there. Anyway, even if I could get to a library right now, it's not like there would be any Christmas movies left on the shelves. I really just need to start buying the DVDs I love, right? (Too bad they only have sales like that in America! :P)

    7. Gotcha. We have different service times in the summer because there's no Sunday School, and all summer long I have a horrible time remembering when services are.

      I am planning to hit up some after-Christmas sales, so if I find any really good Christmas movies, I'll pick them up for you. Are there any you do have, so I don't duplicate? I can hang onto them until next time I send a box your way -- birthday, even.

    8. I'm hoping that we don't have to switch back again, because Mom and I agree that Sunday doesn't really feel like Sunday if you have to wait until five in the afternoon to go to church. The day feels like another day of the week, kind of. So, we're both happy to be going in the morning now. :)

      That would be wonderful! :) I don't have a single Christmas movie in my collection (because we always got them from the library), so anything that you sent would be much appreciated. :)

    9. Eva, I love it when you let me play fairy godmother :-)

  4. Such an intriguing scene! Actually, I love that you highlighted the 'not-so-frothy-merriness' of Christmas. I'll keep this short -- as I'm (hopefully) saving some of my thoughts on the subject for a Christmas post ;) -- but that's really what it's all about. The true merriment of Christmas isn't frothy, though all that can have it's place. Our Savior came in the flesh, looked Death in the face, and defeated it. And our consequent merriment is deep and earth-shaking, reflecting His. :)

    1. Heidi, thank you. I think our society places unreal expectations of happiness on this season, which obviously causes people a lot of sadness and guilt and worry if they're not as happy as they think they should be. I'm looking forward to your Christmas post!


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